Headlines: July 10th, 2001

The Health Secretary, Alan Milburn has sought to clarify the Government’s thinking on how much further private sector involvement there should be in the NHS.It comes after public airing of concern by NHS bodies about talk of  ‘franchising’ and the potential privatisation of sections of the service seen to be failing.

Mr Milburn described the forging of a new relationship with the private sector as just that – a relationship and not a takeover.

He said: ‘There is no saviour of the NHS other than the NHS itself.’

Mr Milburn outlined to the NHS Confederation, which has been among the groups airing concerns, four areas where private sector expertise and finance could bring benefit to NHS patients.

These were – the use of spare capacity in the private sector to perform operations on NHS patients, private sector management to run some of the new stand-alone surgery centres the Government is committed to building, extending PFI beyond the hospital sector into new public private partnerships in primary care, social services and provision of equipment, and finally, using private sector management expertise such as the provision of IT systems.